A group known as Citizens Watch Nigeria, CWN, has carpeted the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, for reportedly saying that the former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd), used the money given to him to buy weapons to confront the Boko Haram insurgency, to build palaces in Abuja.
“This is a deliberately false and misleading statement by Mallam Garba Shehu which was calculated to tarnish the unblemished professional reputation of a distinguished professional, who has spent the better part of his life protecting and defending this country from external aggression and securing the territorial integrity of Nigeria”, the group’s president, Omoba Aigbegbele, said in a statement on Monday.
Badeh, who is currently on bail, was last month arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before a Federal High Court in Abuja on a 10-count charge of corruption. He was arraigned alongside Iyalikam Nigeria Limited, a company linked to him.
Mr. Aigbegbele continued: “Shehu went beyond the charges against Badeh. There is not a single allegation in the charges against the former Chief of Defence Staff that he built palaces in Abuja with monies given to him to procure arms to secure his community.
“Second, it is quite unimaginable of the Senior Special Assistant to use the scourge of the Boko Haram terrorist to score cheap political points, knowing full well that no one is exempted from the terrorists and their nefarious activities. Even President Buhari was also once attacked by the same group”.
The CWN leader noted that Shehu may have forgotten that Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) created the sacred and constitutional doctrine of presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
“It is, therefore, a matter of grave concern that he would make such unguarded pronouncements about a matter, which is currently subjudicial, and to which the former Chief of Defence Staff has pleaded not guilty.
“This again is a hollow attempt to unduly interfere with the functions of the judiciary, a conduct, which is repugnant to the constitutional principle of separation of powers. Shehu should rightly direct his media and publicity functions to address the increasingly deteriorating plight of the good people of Nigeria”, he said.